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Open Access Research article

Ulcerogenic risk assessment of diets for pigs in relation to gastric lesion prevalence

Maria Grazia Cappai*, Maurizio Picciau and Walter Pinna

  • * Corresponding author: Maria Grazia Cappai

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

Research Unit of Animal Breeding Sciences of the Agriculture Department, University of Sassari, ex-Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, via Vienna 2, 07100, Sassari, Italy

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BMC Veterinary Research 2013, 9:36  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-36

Published: 22 February 2013



Gastric ulcers in fattening pigs from intensive pork production can cause sudden deaths on farm and the grinding intensity of the diet appears to be among the risk factors. The objective of this work is to adopt the latest laboratory tests and thresholds for the ulcerogenic risk assessment of diets from experimental reports and verify the class of risk in relation to gastric lesion prevalence in reared finishers.


Specificity and accuracy of feed safety tests based on the ulcerogenic risk of feed associated with the particle size distribution of diets were calculated on the occurrence of gastric lesions observed at a slaughterhouse: 41 lard-type hogs, fed with two diets [pelleted (nā€‰=ā€‰21 pigs) vs. mixed meal (nā€‰=ā€‰20 pigs)], analyzed at the laboratory of our Institute, were involved. Gross inspection at the abattoir allowed the identification of the development of macroscopic gastric lesions in the pigs (13/21) fed with a pelleted complete diet, ranked in Class 1 (high ulcerogenic risk) on laboratory assessment. Breakdown of gastric lesion severity: hyperkeratosis (13/13), mucosal erosions (11/13) and bleeding ulcers (2/13). This occurrence was compared to the morphology of stomach mucosa from 20 finishers fed with a mixed meal diet, ranked in Class 3 (low ulcerogenic risk), in which no gastric lesions were observed. Very fine particle (VFP) mass (<0.4 mm) according to cut off thresholds (>36%) for the safety ranking of diets, showed: 100% positive predictive value (PPV); 100% specificity; 88.1% accuracy; 72.2% sensitivity.


Three factors emerged: the elevated mass (42.6%) of <0.4 mm particles in the pelleted complete diet confirmed the associated risk rank in Class 1 assessed by laboratory procedures, as gastric lesions were selectively observed in 61.9% of finishers fed with the high risk diet; in these animals, macroscopic gastric lesions occurred within four weeks and showed a sub-clinical course, independently of severity; proper sieving analysis is necessary to define the VFP proportion in feedstuffs with certainty, as an adequate measure to assess the ulcerogenic risk class of the diet.